As an all girls FRC team, Girls of Steel has had many experiences empowering girls in the STEM field through outreach and through our pipeline of FIRST programs . We have hosted numerous events and meetups to try to encourage girls to get involved in STEM. We hosted two FIRST Ladies meetups in the 2017 FIRST Steamworks season. One was at our annual “Week Zero” Scrimmage held on Saturday, February 18th, right before Bag & Tag. Several girls from our team and other area FRC teams got together to talk about how being on FRC teams will help to achieve career goals (photos). The second was at California University of Pennsylvania during the 2017 Greater Pittsburgh Regional (photos). At this more formal event at the regional, girls were able to socialize and interact with people in the STEM field that have experience and have overcome challenges that girls in STEM might face in the future.
“It was great opportunity to meet other girls who experience similar challenges of being a girl in the STEM field, ” said Sarah, a senior on the team.
Another senior on the team added,“ l love the sense of unity and support I’m able to get from being around like-minded and driven girls.”
Also, at outreach events, we talk to students of all ages and genders to pursue a career in STEM. Each year the Girls of Steel has a goal of reaching at least 5,000 people through direct contact at these events. Last year we reached over 4100 people and this year we are off to a great start having reached over 1300 people so far.
At some outreach events we offer workshops with our “Robot Chassis Project Kit” to give kids and adults hands-on experiences with activities that represent what our team does - we build robots. The “Robot Chassis Project Kit” is a mock robot chassis, about 23” x 21” that can be built in less than two hours by people of any ages and any experience level. This activity can help increase the interest level in robotics because people can get hands on exposure to what robotics is really like.
Recently we offered the chassis kit workshop at Assemble’s Girls Maker Night. Ziya, a junior on the team said, “It was really fun to watch the kids work together and assemble the chassis in about an hour and have fun driving it around.”
Outreach is a vital component of our team. We believe that it’s our job to share our message with others so that all girls can experience STEM with less stigma and more support. We want every girl to realize her amazing potential!
My times with Girls of Steel and FIRST in general have given me many valuable experiences and expanded my knowledge about the STEM field. I started as a 7th grader on one of the Girls of Steel FLL teams, team 2641 “Bricks, Sweat, and Gears,” which let me get a feel of what it was like being on a FIRST team. I learned all the basics in every sub team and got experiences competing against other FLL teams from the Pittsburgh area. I then moved onto being a FTC member of the Girls of Steel Juniors team 9820 and started using more advanced parts and building “real” robots. I became familiar with programming and electronics and got to try out all components of the team. Last year, I joined the FRC team, 3504, The Girls of Steel. I have learned so much about how to work in a team, to manage my time, and got the opportunity to gain knowledge about robotics and reach other people through the program.
Being on Girls of Steel, or any FIRST team in general is an opportunity that every girl should go for. Whether or not you are interested or have any prior experience with robotics, joining a team like this can be a lot of fun. It teaches you more than just robotics and engineering, but teamwork and responsibility. I would recommend FIRST to any girl and encourage everyone to try it!
Girls of Steel April 2017